The Password

computer mouse and key“Password incorrect. Please try again.” For the 15th time, my stupid computer kept flashing that same message as I tried desperately to reset my password and get into the system. First my new code was too short, then no capital letters, then no numbers or extra symbols, or it had been taken by another user. With each effort to find the perfect combination being blocked by the evil spirit inside my keyboard, I could feel my frustration level rising inside of me. Finally, with all the sarcasm and anger I could muster at an inanimate object I typed, “Godhelpme!” Ding. Ding. Ding. It worked. Suddenly the welcome screen came open like the gates of Buckingham Palace, and my blood pressure could return to normal.

As the days went on, however, I found this new password having an interesting effect on my spirit as I started work each day. The plea went from being a hostile gripe with technology to instead being a short mantra to start whatever I was doing. “Godhelpme!”¦write this e-mail with compassion.” “Godhelpme!…do this right.” “Godhelpme!”¦find you in this work.” And in doing this, my work became more meaningful, more about serving rather than getting work done. I realized that prayer, even short mantras, can act as a password to enter that sacred space in the midst of daily life.

Ignatius would implore his retreatants to ask directly for what grace they would seek from God. That request for grace is now my password both onscreen and in my heart, so I can regularly remember that God is in all things, even my operating system.

*Password has been changed since this writing.

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Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly is a wife, mother, and Ignatian Associate living in Omaha, Nebraska. She works to help organizations integrate spirituality into their planning and systems. She and her husband, Tom, completed the 19th Annotation in 2005, just prior to spending two years living in the Dominican Republic with their three young children, supporting the work of the Jesuit Institute for Latin American Concern. Additionally they have lived in El Salvador and Bolivia for extended periods.


  1. As I read the opening lines I was preempting the conclusion but I was wrong. I thought the writer was going to say that there is a password that never fails in letting us into the realm of the Divine and that is the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Cross is indeed such a password and always works. But of course there are other passwords too. Beauty is probably my favourite. My heart takes that leap from the finger of Adam(me) to that of the Father in Michael Angelo’s Creation every time I experience something of Beauty in music, art, literature and so on. Of course Christ is the Ultimate password. Amen to that. I still enjoyed the insights from your reflection Lisa. You got me thinking.


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